The UK economy suffered the biggest contraction on record, in 2020, experiencing an unprecedented slump in economic and business activity after a series of lockdowns imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic.
The country’s GDP shrank by 9.9 percent last year, according to new data revealed on Friday by its Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The annual decline was triggered by a historic recession at the beginning of the year, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak in February and March. The data shows that GDP began to rebound in the third quarter, but remained 7.8 percent smaller than it had been at the end of 2019.
In the final quarter of the year, the economy saw modest growth of around one percent, despite a further series of nationwide lockdowns aimed at tackling a resurgence of Covid-19 cases.
The near-flat performance at the end of the year came after 16 percent growth from July through September, as the British economy improved from its steepest crash in 300 years.
According to the ONS, GDP grew by 1.2 percent month on month in December, which was slightly better than had been forecasted.
Earlier this year, Britain became the first country to be blighted by one of the new and more transmissible variants of the virus. As of Friday, it has registered more than four million cases, along with 115,000 deaths, data compiled by Johns Hopkins University in the US shows.
The UK remains in a nationwide lockdown, which was imposed at the start of 2021. Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said some 13 million citizens had so far received the first dose of a vaccine against Covid-19
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